Australian hotel investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is hoping to launch operations from Sydney’s first commercial, rooftop helipad atop his Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour hotel from 2022.
The entrepreneur recently launched the consultation process for the proposal in an effort to revive Sydney’s economy and boost its business and tourism profile in the post-COVID-19 economic downturn. The city previously had a commercial helipad up until the 1980s when it was removed during the redevelopment of the area. The city’s only existing public helipads are at Bankstown and Mascot airports, outside of the central business district.
“Given the devastation to Sydney’s tourism and business economy as a result of Coronavirus, there is no better time to introduce the concept of a CBD helipad to help revive the city’s economic fortunes,” says Dr Schwartz.
The proposal would see a permanent helipad installed on the roof of the 38-storey Sofitel, which is adjacent to the city’s International Convention Centre (ICC) and is in the heart of the Darling Harbour business, tourism and convention precinct. The helipad would also be available for use by emergency services.
“There’s no doubt that this infrastructure would significantly benefit Sydney’s business and convention profile and provide delegates attending the ICC and Sydney CBD the highest security, while also ensuring disruptions to city traffic are minimised,” says Dr Schwartz.
A preliminary design for the helipad has been developed, while consultation with the community and stakeholders is under way with a number of information sessions already held. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be developed and lodged with the City of Sydney Council for consideration. The EIS process calls for extensive consultation with local residents and other stakeholders, as well as an extensive set of environmental impact studies, including wind, noise and vibration studies. This research will be incorporated with an aeronautical impact assessment which will also determine the flight paths to be used. Dr Schwartz hopes to lodge the reports with the council around August for a subsequent round of public comment.
The whole process could take up to 18 months, with no decision expected until next year and operations from 2022 at the earliest, subject to planning approvals and construction.
Previous attempts to launch a Sydney CBD helipad have been well received by the business community, but met with noise concerns from inner city residents.
Emma Kelly – reproduced with permission. Article first appeared in Resilient Aviation
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